The definition of a retailer, when you think about it, is fairly loose. As long as you sell something to the consumer, you’re considered a retailer. And while there is definitely a difference between retail and other types of business, the lines can get pretty blurred.
Take wholesalers, for example. A wholesaler is decidedly not a retailer because wholesalers sell their goods in bulk to other retailers—usually at a discounted price (at least compared to the final retail price). Retailers, on the other hand, sell individual items directly to the consumer—usually at the standard retail price.
But businesses aren’t limited to just one or the other. So you could, theoretically, sell items wholesale at a discount to other retailers while also selling individual items to the consumer at regular retail price. Wholesalers and retailers also aren’t limited to selling in bulk or in individual quantities. Costco, for example, sells items in bulk at a discounted rate—but it sells directly to the consumer.
Some business experts also say that retailers don’t include service-based businesses (like massage parlors or pest control services). After all, they’re not selling physical goods, right? But they are selling directly to the consumer, so other business experts still consider service-based companies retailers. And then there’s the added complication of service-based companies that sell physical products on the side (like a salon that also sells hair products).
Long story short: as long as your company sells directly to the consumer, you’re a retailer.